Dog Breeds 101: St Bernard

Everybody loved Beethoven so this instalment of Dog Breeds 101 will explore the breed behind the lovable character!

90.jpegThe St Bernard is classed by the Kennel Club as a Working Dog weighing in between 64-120kg and reaching heights of 65-90cm. St Bernard’s have an average lifespan of between 8-10 years and they are a relatively healthy breed. Of course, due to their size they do have some issues with hip and elbow dysplasia.

10db7d31b07272343588e1eb32d6b904--saint-bernard-puppies-saint-bernard-dog.jpgThe St Bernard is a moderately intelligent breed that is quick to learn. However, because of this intelligence it is also easy for them to pick up bad habits so a confident and consistent trainer is required. Also, correct socialisation is needed when the St Bernard is a puppy or there is a risk of aggression in later life.

If the correct training and socialisation is undertaken then the St Bernard is sweet natured and patient and makes the perfect family pet. They form incredibly strong bonds with their owners and unfortunately this means they can develop separation anxiety. However, if handled correctly St Bernard’s can tolerate a reasonable amount of time on their own.

St Bernard’s are immensely strong and require enough room to live. They shed throughout the year and drool a lot. Because of their sheer size and grooming needs St Bernard’s are quite expensive to keep.

Saint-Bernard-Puppies.jpgI hope this post helps in your decision to adopt a St Bernard into your family. If you need any owning or training advice please don’t hesitate to contact me!

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My Top 5 Wildlife Charities

For this special post I’m going to talk about my 5 favourite animal charities in the hopes that some people that read my blog might end up following the missions of these charities and together help out as many animals in need as possible.

  1. Project AWARE
    mT7uAQAf.jpgFormed in 1989 as an environmental initiative by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Their aim was to increase environmental awareness. Project AWARE is most famous for its Shark and Ray project and its Dive Against Debris project.
  2. The main campaigns that Project AWARE is currently running are Divers4Makos which aims to end uncontrolled Mako shark fishing. You can sign the campaign here. They are also currently running the Dive Against Debris project. This project allows you to use your phone to take actions for a clean ocean. You can report debris in the ocean via the Dive Against Debris app.
  3. You can visit the Project AWARE store here or you can also donate to Project Aware here.
  4. Tusk Trust
    tusk-logo-without-web.jpegTusk Trust was formed in 1990 and supports more than 60 field projects in 19 African countries. Tusk Trust also has a Royal Patron in HRH Prince William who supports the mission and values of Tusk Trust. This charity is currently involved with 46 different projects such as the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project and the Mali Elephant Project.
  5. Visit the shop or click here to make a donation.
  6. Panthera
    panthera_logoThis foundation is devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 40 wild cat species. Their current projects include: Tigers Forever, Project Leonardo, Jaguar Corridor Initiative, Snow Leopard Program, Project Pardus, Puma Program and the Cheetah Program.
  7. You can donate to Panthera here.
  8. Born Free Foundation
    af257e01-857d-4e7d-ad45-bab502f57dd2The Born Free Foundation was founded in 1984 and aims for the protection of many species. Their mission statement is ‘Keep wildlife in the wild’ and their vision is to make sure all animals, whether free or captive, are treated with compassion and respect.
  9. Visit the shop or click here to make a donation.
  10. Worldwide Veterinary Service
    UnknownWVS was founded in 2003 with the aim to treat animals in places where no one else can. In an average year the WVS will treat over 150k animals worldwide, deploy over 100 teams, support over 250 charities and also train over 500 vets.
  11. You can visit the store or you can donate to WVS here.

All of these charities do some amazing work and all of them need donations or volunteers, so if you could share this post to get their work spread further among the wildlife community to ensure they are all getting the support they need.

Animal Travels: Alaska

This week’s instalment of Animal Travels is going to explore the amazing wildlife of Alaska. Alaska is an amazing place to visit if wildlife is your passion and in this instalment we’re going to explore the best places to visit if you want to see the species of Alaska in their natural habitats!

2010-kodiak-bear-1.jpgAlaska is definitely home to more than a few bears and if you want to view them in the wild the best places to visit are either the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre or Fish Creek which has road accessible bear viewing. If you want to head to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre you’ll be able to see bears (Brown and Black) year round although it will cost you around $15 for entry. Fish Creek however, costs $5 for a day pass but is slightly less accessible and you can only view bears between July and September when the fish are in.

chinook.jpgAlaska is also famous for its Salmon and there are a few places you can go if you want to see them. Perhaps the best place to see them is of course in the same place as the bears, so again head to Fish Creek and you’ll get to see both the Salmon and the bears of Alaska in one go!

01mooseWAQ.jpgAlthough Canada is more famous for Moose, Alaska is also home to this species. If you want to see the Moose in the wild in Alaska the best places to head are either to Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, Moose Pond or Earthquake Park.


KARIM_ILIYA_F8B0880.jpgIf whales are more your thing then Alaska also has some great spots for whale watching. You can head to the Kenai River Viewing Platform which is a popular spot for viewing Belugas, Lowell Point Road which is known for having Humpbacks; or to Barwell Island where you can hop on a boat and head out into the ocean to see Humpbacks are Orcas.

walrus-morse_10.jpgAnd the final species for this instalment of Animal Travels is the Walrus. If you head to Round Island in Alaska between May and August then you’ll get to witness giant herds of walruses as they nest in their tens of thousands throughout the summer. You’ll also get to see several species of seabirds such as puffins as they also call Round Island their home. However, if you are visiting Alaska later in the year and still want to see these Walruses then you can head to Cape Peirce where the Walrus can be seen between August and November as they head North for the winter pack ice.

Click here for more Animal Travels.

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Lost Forever/Animals We’ll Never See Again: Passenger Pigeon

From a conservation point of view, looking to the past is as important as looking to the future. Reminiscing about the past can help humankind to ensure that the same fate doesn’t happen to other species.

3780971_orig.jpgThis installment of Lost Forever is looking at the decline of the Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorious). What’s unique about the downfall of this species is that the Passenger Pigeon was once one of the world’s most abundant bird species. The Passenger Pigeon was once found in the forests of Canada and the USA and they occasionally wandered further south in Mexico and Cuba. This species was nomadic; breeding and foraging in vast flock compromised of millions of birds. They nested in between the months of April and May and were classed as a Full Migrant.


Records suggest that the last wild bird was shot in 1900; while the last captive bird died in 1914 in Cincinnati Zoo. There is no solid evidence about what factor was to blame for the rapid decline of the Passenger Pigeon but there were several at play. The widespread clearance of hardwood trees drastically reduced the food for the pigeons, young birds were taken from the wild and sold, there was excessive shooting of individuals and Newcastle disease could also have been to blame. More than likely the rapid decline was a combination of all these factors interacting with one another to have a dramatic effect of the survival of the Passenger Pigeon.


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Animals You May Not Have Heard About: Gerenuk

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The Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri) is a species of Antelope that is native to African countries such as Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania. The Gerenuk is also nicknamed the Giraffe-Gazelle due to its elongated neck.

3135323.large.jpgGerenuks can be found in bushland and semi-arid locations. They are largely independent of water as they are one of the most exclusive browsers in the animal kingdom.



According to the IUCN Red List, Gerenuks are currently Near Threatened but they are extremely close to meeting the threshold of Vulnerable. The reason for the decline in numbers has been thought to relate to the encroachment of human settlement onto their natural range. Humans have cut down trees in their natural habitat for wood burning. Furthermore, Gerenuks are hunted for their meat, although it is not known how much this has affected their numbers.

gerenuk1_velthaus.jpgAround 10% of the population of Gerenuks occurs in protected areas such as the Tsavo National Park. The population that calls the Tsavo National Park its home has faced its own problems with their numbers being reduced by rinderpest and drought.

Perhaps the best thing about Gerenuks is their unusual way of feeding!!

G_paul.jpgClick here to learn about more Animals You May Not Have Heard About.


Animal Travels: Borneo & Sumatra

Many people have heard about Borneo and Sumatra due to their famous animal inhabitants. In the week’s instalment of Animal Travels we’ll explore the wildlife of Borneo and Sumatra!!

Bornean-Orangutan-Male-1020x610.jpgSumatran_Orangutan_8.6.2012_Why_They_Matter_XL_257639.jpgOf course it only makes sense to start with the most popular animal resident of the islands. The Orang-utan is  best located in the Danum Valley, Gunung Leuser and the Kinabatangan River. There are two species of Orang-utan. The Bornean Orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus) and the Sumatran Orang-utan (Pongo abelii). Both of the orang-utan species are in grave danger as both as classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN Red List. Fun fact: Orang-utans share around 97% of the same DNA as humans!


Moving on to another famous Sumatra species, the Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis). The best places to visit in order to see these rhinos in the wild is to the Gunung Leuser, Bukut Barisan Selatan and Way Kambas National Parks. The Sumatran Rhino has recently been declared as Extinct in the Wild in Myanmar. Fun fact: Sumatran Rhinos are the smallest (and hairiest!) rhino species.

Sumatran-Tiger-HeroOne of my favourite species is the next in this Animal Travels adventure. The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is a subspecies of tiger. The best place to visit to view this species in the wild is by heading to the Satwa Sumatra Birding Guesthouse or visit Way Kambas National Park. You will need luck to be on your side to see this animal in the wild as their numbers are dwindling and they are known for being notoriously difficult to spot. Fun fact: Sumatran Tigers are the smallest subspecies of tiger in the world.

Proboscis_monkey.jpgBorneo and Sumatra are also home to the Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus) famous for its nose! To see in the wild the best place to head is to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary which is located about 38km from Sandakan airport. These monkeys are facing problems from habitat destruction which is severely reducing their population numbers. Furthermore, the species is relatively lethargic which makes them easy to hunt and without legal measures being put into place the species is likely to be hunted into extinction. Fun fact: Baby Proboscis monkeys are born with black fur and a bright blue face!

1a-sunbear.jpgSun Bears (Helarctos malayanus) can also be found in Borneo and Sumatra and are particularly abundant. To find a Sun Bear in Borneo you just need to head to one of the tropical rainforests on the islands. Fun fact: Also known as the Honey Bear as this is their favourite food (Winnie the Pooh would be jealous).

7aecec2e64a66a49eb3cbb9d366dba2f--clouded-leopard-twitter.jpgFor the final species of this week’s Animal Travels, the Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi). Clouded Leopards were originally considered a single species until recent years when they were split using analysis from mitochondrial DNA, micro-satellites and chromosomal differences. The best place to visit if you want to spot the Sunda Clouded Leopard in the wild is to head to the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, the Tabin Forest Reserve or into the Danum Valley. Fun fact: Clouded Leopards spend nearly all their lives in the trees, so if you want to spot one, don’t forget to look up!

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Dog Breeds 101: Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese_Mountain_Dog_SERP.jpgThe Bernese Mountain Dog or ‘Berner’ is a large dog reaching heights of between 1’11” and 2’3″ and weights of between 70 and 115 pounds. The Berner is classified as a Working Dog and have a relatively short lifespan of between 6-8 years.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for being loyal, affectionate intelligent and eager to please. This makes the Berner fairly easy to train and suitable for a novice owner. They are a great family dog as they do well with children of all ages and they always want to be around their family. However, they aren’t a good choice for a family living in an apartment or in a home that doesn’t have a large, fenced in garden.

90.jpegAs with all dogs the Bernese Mountain Dog responds well to early training and socialisation. However, although they are easy to train they don’t respond well to harsh corrections; therefore, positive reinforcement training is recommended. Berners are known for staying puppyish for a relatively long time.

Bernese Mountain Dogs unfortunately have a small gene pool which has ultimately resulted in several health problems due to inbreeding. These health problems include: cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, portosystem shunt, Von Willebrand’s disease, panosteitis and gastric torsion (bloat).

6554242485c49ff3023d43f30db34d23--bernese-mountain-dogs-large-dogs.jpgThe risk of an animal developing some of these health problems can be lessened by following some preventative measures. For example, if you avoid over-exercising the dog when they are young and if you don’t allow them to run up and down stairs you can greatly reduce the risk of hip and elbow dysplasia. Also you can reduce the risk of bloat by feeding your dog smaller meals twice a day from an elevated feeder and to also pay particular attention to this as the dog gets older.

I hope this post has improved your understanding of what it means to own and raise a Bernese Mountain Dog!

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